Located in the heart of the Argo-Saronic Gulf, the island of Aegina is a favourite destination for Athenians and the perfect choice for tourists who visit Greece. Just 17 miles from the port of Piraeus, Aegina’s rich history was born in the fourth millennium BC, when the first settlers arrived.
Flourishing from the eighth to the fifth centuries BC, Aegina was the first city to mint coins (in the seventh century BC) and with its large maritime fleet developed and mastered commercial control of the entire eastern Mediterranean. In 480 BC the island’s naval fleet played a major role in the defeat of the Persians at the battle of Salamis.
Despite seeing a significant decline in commercial and strategic importance during the rule of Athens, Aegina once again took centre stage during the Revolution of 1821 against the Ottomans and was subsequently designated the first capital of modern Greece in 1827, under governor Ioannis Kapodistrias.
Although the capital was officially transferred to Nafplion in 1829, Aegina island remained a focal point of Greece’s vibrant social, political, financial and commercial life.
While the tourist season runs from early spring through to September, the ideal time for a visit is during the summer, when all of Aegina’s major attractions are at their best and the island’s ambience is warm and relaxed.
With its lush green forests, beautiful villages, pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, Aegina offers visitors a wide variety of unique landscapes and activities.
With frequent ferries and flying dolphin connections to Piraeus, Aegina is also the perfect destination for sailing trips. Located a mere half-hour away by boat, the small, picturesque island of Agistri is blanketed in green, a beautiful contrast to the crystal waters. This is the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway.
Attractions: What not to miss
Then there is the temple of the Aphaia, an architectural masterpiece that towers over the majestic landscape – truly an attraction you cannot afford to miss. Whether seen by buggy ride or on foot, the neoclassical architecture of the City of Aegina is sure to transport you.
The major religious attraction on the island is the temple of miraculous St. Nektarios. And for those interested in ecology, a visit to Paleohora and Messagros for the Hellenic Wildlife Hospital (EKPAZ) is a must.
Visitors can also bond with nature on the island of Agistri: with its stunning waters and green landscapes, it’s the perfect place for relaxation, camping and returning to nature
Gastronomy and local products
Gastronomically, Aegina boasts a small yet commanding representative: the pistachio nut. Although the island’s other foods are first class, especially when it comes to meat and fish, the pistachio nut is the undisputed king of Aegean food.
A protected name-of-origin product, it can be found everywhere here: plain, salted, roasted, natural, in sweets, with chocolate, in sweet sauce, as a liqueur, in jams and in any other form imaginable. The pistachio nut even has its own festival held annually in mid-September! Also, don't miss Aegina’s exquisite pottery, highly valued by locals and visitors alike.
The best beaches on the island
Aegina has many free beaches, all easily accessible. The most popular here is the Agia Marina, a trendy, family-favourite with a multitude of beach bars.
The northern beaches of the island, particularly Loutra Souvalas and Vagia, are also worth a visit. To the south, Marathonas and Perdika beaches are perfect for a relaxing swim to the nearby islet of Moni. The fact is, all of Agistri’s beaches are nothing short of stunning, especially Aponissos, Dragonera, and Mareza. Don’t miss out on any of them!
Aegina is surrounded by incredible beaches to suit every taste – take your pick:
• Agia Marina
Agia Marina is the most famous organised beach on the island. Approximately 15 kilometres from the main port, it has white-sand beaches, ouzo bars and beach bars right by the waves. It was awarded a Blue Flag for its gorgeous waters and excellent services.
This sandy beach with shallow, crystal-clear waters is ideal for families with children. It’s well organised and located just five kilometres from the island’s capital.
This is one of the island’s most popular beaches, with sand, pebbles and emerald waters. During the weekends it fills with private yachts and gets rather crowded.
This lovely islet, eight minutes from the port of Perdika features an organised beach and an exotic landscape.
• Agios Vasileios
This beautiful, well-organised beach features light sand and shallow waters, as well as a café and bar.
Eucalyptus trees enclose this sandy beach, approximately six kilometres from the island’s capital. Its sandy shores make it popular among the younger crowds.
• Kamares, near Prosinemo
The beautiful, well-organised beach of Kamares lies between Plakakia and Souvala. It boasts azure waters and a nice view of the beaches of Attica.
Near the archaeological site of Kolona, this sandy beach with shallow waters offers umbrellas and chairs for lounging as well as wooden tables under the pines. Plus, it’s only 10 minutes from the main port by foot.
This well-organised sandy beach lies about one kilometre from the main port of Aegina, in front of the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This serviced beach features shallow, crystal-clear waters and a view of the shores of the Peloponnese.
• Loutra Souvalas and Vagia
These are probably the most well-known beaches in the northern part of the island, located approximately eight kilometres from the main port.
This small organised beach lies on the eastern part of the island.
Hotels and accommodation
Although Aegina has undergone a great deal of development over the years, it may not be the ideal choice for those with more cosmopolitan tastes.
While the island’s many hotels offer bargain prices, their features are somewhat basic, with no noticeable extras, and a number of them are in need of renovation. However, there are also many rooms and apartments for rent, especially in the towns of Aegina Souvala and Agia Marina.
If your requirements are simple and you have a little patience, you are sure to find solid, reasonably priced accommodation. Of course, if you prefer a more natural environment, free camping is available in Dragonera and at a few other locations on the island.
The heart of this Greek island beats in the city of Aegina, with its restaurants, taverns, cafés and bars offering visitors a variety of culinary and entertainment choices. Though the island’s nightlife is not considered extravagant by metropolitan standards, the locals are friendly and hospitable. A leisurely drink accompanied by a romantic view of Athens at one of the famous beach bars in Agia Marina is guaranteed to help you relax and enjoy the summer scene.
While many of the beaches in Aegina host activities, the largest is Agia Marina, where visitors can scuba-dive, snorkel, do some underwater fishing or participate in a multitude of other water and beach sports.
Paddle boats and canoes are also available for rental and visitors are encouraged to take an organised boat tour of the island.